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Historical romances were my first love, but lately I’ve been noticing how much they snore, and wishing they’d take the damn garbage out.  The last one I tried to read has been getting rave reviews up the wazoo; I got to page 280, realized there were still 100 more pages left, and groaned out loud. (I’m not going to identify the book, since my current weird state of mind might have contributed to how little I was enjoying it.) Thank goodness Trouble At the Wedding came along before I decided to cart my entire historical TBR to the library. It would have cost a lot in gas.

It’s not that Trouble at the Wedding is the most gorgeous, deeply characterized historical ever, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s sharp and fresh and tightly written, with distinctive characters and an engaging situation.  Set during the Edwardian era, it’s — unsurprisingly — a story about an American heiress set to marry an titled Englishman. Nothing else ever happened back then, apparently. But Annabel is no ordinary American heiress: for most of her life she was dirt poor, “white trash” from Mississippi, and the pain of rejection drives her fiercely.  Her titled Englishman, unfortunately, is very much an ordinary titled Englishman: stuffy, controlling, and unfaithful.

Luckily for Annabel, her uncle has hired Christian, yet another impoverished titled Englishman, to put a spanner in the works. Only Christian’s inconvenient liking for the openhearted and outspoken Annabel might cause problems:

“He looked at her in dismay. This was going to be more difficult that he’d first thought. In agreeing to take this on, he hadn’t appreciated that there might be deeper reasons for her ambition than mere social climbing, reasons that stemmed from old wounds. To succeed with this, he’d have to open those wounds, use her own insecurities to plant doubts in her head. And he was tempted, suddenly, to walk away and let the chips fall.

But then he remembered Rumsford winking at him in the House with the Bronze Door, a memory that revolted even his calloused soul. She did not deserve to be chained to an ass like that for the rest of her life, and he decided he was justified in making her see it by whatever means necessary.”

Annabel’s Southern way of speaking is a refreshing change of pace from Regency misses (aside from a puzzling, squirm-inducing mention of Christian having “a touch of the tar brush” *)  and she’s an awesomely tough, yet vulnerable woman, who fights for what she wants without being appallingly ruthless about it. I admired how long she sticks to her guns and resists Christian. Christian fits more into a type, a guilty widower determined never to marry again, but his pain and conviction felt real.  When the book started to go down some well worn paths, I was disappointed and expected the worst — but even that came off in an satisfying way, by the end.

Trouble at the Wedding is third in Guhrke’s “Abandoned at the Alter” series, but I haven’t a clue how it relates to the previous books, if it does. (Guhrke’s website is not helpful in this regard.)  In any event, you don’t have to have read them to enjoy it, though the second in the series is also quite good.

I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.

You can visit Laura Lee Guhrke’s website here, and Kindle Trouble At The Wedding over at Amazon.com here.


I wasn’t quite sure what to think of this term as used here; as a racial slur, I suppose it’s historically accurate, but Annabel didn’t seem to be using it as one. I guess we can take it as positive that thinking it doesn’t seem to put her off Christian in any way. It still made me squirm, though.


  • Jeannie S. (Jeannie189)
    March 31
    5:52 pm

    Great review and I am going to try this one. It looks very different from the usual historical novels. Lately, many of them have been DNF for me.


  • Thanks Jeannie, I hope you enjoy it.


  • FD
    April 1
    12:07 pm

    I haven’t read this one, so the phrase in context may reflect the contemporary (and horrible) US meaning. However, historically, (certainly in England, possibly in the US) tar references are often referring to language/behaviour/dress, by way of comparison to sailors. This is because they were frequently marked with tar, because it was used for waterproofing of boats. Sailors were notoriously unkempt, foul-mouthed, drunken, violent etc, so to suggest that someone resembled a sailor, e.g. ‘touch of the tar brush’ was indeed a not very subtle insult, but not a racially based one. This usage pre-dates the racial one (tar baby) by a couple of centuries, but as I said, the contemporary one has spread across the Atlantic, so I’d be chary of using it lest it be (quite reasonably) misinterpreted.


  • Oh interesting — thanks for that input, FD. That does make a lot more sense in the context.


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